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Number of animals euthanized in LA hits 3-year low, report finds

Over a decade ago, former Mayor James Hahn called for Los Angeles to become a "no-kill" city by 2008. Seven years past his deadline, the city has found the number of animals it euthanizes in its shelters has fallen significantly, though it's not yet at zero. 

In 2008, 50 percent of animals that wound up in the city's shelter system were put down. In the last fiscal year, those numbers have dropped to 25 percent, according to an audit by the L.A. city controller. 

That is 14,000 animals, including more than 7,800 cats, 3,800 dogs and 2,300 other animals. City Controller Ron Galperin said that he believes there is still a lot of room for improvement. "We believe 14,000 is too many," he said.

What the numbers show

The audit found two major differences in deaths among animals at shelters. One was related to the area of the shelter where the animals are brought in, and the other had to do with space.

Though it's the most recent and most advanced, the South L.A. shelter saw the highest percentage of its animals euthanized, at 36.6 percent.

"The zip code people live in often correlates to their health and even lifespan," Galperin said. "The same seems to be true for cats, dogs and other animals in certain parts of L.A."

The West Valley shelter was second in number of animal deaths at 19 percent, followed by the shelter in West L.A. which reached 14 percent. The data also show that newborn cats are among the animals put down most often. There were 4,250 cats euthanized during the year. 

"They need a great deal of attention," Galperin said. "They need hand feeding, sometimes every two hours, and unfortunately the city has not had the resources or ability to do that."

How the city can keep deaths low

Galperin said greater transparency on the part of Animal Services in providing details on why an animal is euthanized could help keep numbers down.

He also suggested the city look into how it allocates resources for its animal shelter system.

That other reason why animals get put down is the lack of space in shelters. "To me, the worst one would be lack of space. I really don't believe any animal should have its life ended just because we're lacking space," Galperin said. Finding more space could help save more lives. 

"My top recommendation is to the people of Los Angeles," Galperin said. "Consider adopting a pet."

You can read the full report below. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated the report was a county-wide assessment of shelters. In fact, it was limited to the city of L.A. KPCC regrets the error.

Document: LA controller's report on city animal shelters